Greenville autism conference hosts family members, health care providers

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the country.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 68 children is diagnosed on the autism spectrum nationally each year.

In North Carolina, the figure narrows to one in 58.

On Friday, some families who have autistic children attended a conference to get tips on how to better understand their child’s disorder.

The conference was held at the Eastern Area Health Education Center in Greenville.

Families and health professionals who attended were able to speak openly about the difficulties children with autism face.

One of the biggest items discussed was building the relationship between schools and families with autistic children.

David Holler works for Pitt County Schools and spoke at today’s conference.

“I have five daughters and four of them have been diagnosed with autism,” said Holler

Holler’s daughters range from ages eight to fifteen and two are twins.

“For me it’s hard to say what’s different in my life than other people’s life because this is all I know,” said Holler.

Holler said people often don’t understand the different types of autism.

He said, “With autism there is a wide range, there are children who have a hard time functioning and there are children who function very well, so well in fact, that a lot of people wouldn’t identify them as having autism.”

His daughters are able to talk and get along well with each other but can find it hard to create friendships.

“A lot of the social cues that people understand without ever having been taught them can be difficult,” said Holler.

At today’s conference Holler advised families on how to handle an autism diagnosis.

“When you first get and autism diagnosis some people shrug it off and say ‘that’s what we’re dealing with let’s go on from there’ other people get crushed by it,” said Holler.

For him and his wife it didn’t necessarily get easier.

“We’ve had that conversation four times, and hurt pretty much every time,” said Holler.

Holler said his family finds joy in celebrating the little things.

“They are wonderful, I wish I was as perfect as they are, they’re just great and always surprise me with the great things they do.”

At his core you can tell Holler is a father who refuses to let a disorder limit his daughters’ possibilities.

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